Gestational diabetes: an invisible maternal health issue

Gestational diabetes, defined as ‘any degree of glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy’ has increased over the last 20 years, reflecting the increasing frequency of type 2 diabetes in the underlying population. Despite being associated with several pregnancy complications, and increasing the risk of both mother and child developing type 2 diabetes later in life, gestational diabetes remains a neglected maternal health issue. Indeed, the low political priority given to gestational diabetes on the global stage is a missed opportunity for accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goal 5, the most off track, to improve maternal health. This article seeks to explain the underlying causes for the invisibility of gestational diabetes on the global development agenda, and identifies potential strategies to increase the visibility of gestational diabetes.